How to: Deal with common garden pests

In our ‘How to’ blog this week, thanks to the NRLA’s partnership with Tradepoint, we take a look at  how to deal with common household pests. NRLA members can receive a free Tradepoint discount card, entitling them to discounts at B&Q-from gardens to kitchens to paint, find out more here.

Who is responsible for dealing with pests?

The question of who is responsible for dealing with infestations in privately rented housing depends in part on:

  • Whether there is anything relevant in the tenancy agreement: The tenancy agreement may set out details on who is responsible for dealing with any infestation ormay make the landlord responsible for keeping the premises in good condition and fit to live in, which could mean they have to deal with infestations.
  • Whether the property was already infested when the tenant moved in: If the property is already infested when the tenant moves in, it is likely that the landlord will be responsible for dealing with it. In regard to furnished properties, landlords have a contractual duty (implied by common law) to ensure that at the start of the letting there is “nothing so noxious as to render it uninhabitable”.
  • Whether the infestation may have resulted from some act of the tenant. The tenant may be responsible for dealing with the problem if the infestation was caused by something the tenant has done or failed to do; eg, not dealing properly with rubbish, not cleaning the property adequately, leaving food around or keeping pets which have fleas.
  • Whether the property was in disrepair: Infestations may be the result of, or made worse by structural defects or disrepair, such as holes in external walls. Unless the disrepair has been caused by the tenant, it will usually fall to the landlord to carry out the repair and deal with the infestation.

The Government says landlords – or tenants for that matter – who want to establish who is responsible for dealing with a particular infestation should consider seeking specific advice from the local council’s environmental health department. Most local authorities offer some pest control services, but this will differ depending on where you live. Trade associations such as the British Pest Control Association can help find someone in your local area.

Annoyed by ants?

Although ants aren’t thought to carry diseases they can cause nuisance and can bring in pollutants from outdoors in their search for food.

Treatment: First, find the nest entrances. These are indicated by small piles of earth pellets or can be located by watching the ants moving back and forth from nest to food.

Pouring a kettle of boiling water over the nest site is a first-aid measure. You can buy products over the counter to deal with the issue. Some cause the workers to destroy their own nests, for example, sugar based liquid bait.

Bothered by bees?

Contrary to popular belief bees aren’t protected and can be treated, however, they are endangered, so the British Pest Control Association always recommends exploring all other avenues before considering eradication. Many pest controllers do not apply bee treatments unless there’s a serious threat to human life.

Worried about wasps?

Wasps will attack and sting, sometimes unprovoked but usually if threatened. This is a risk and a cause for concern, particularly if you have small children or pets in your rental homes. To get rid of wasps you do not need to remove the nest, but you do need to treat it. For treating a wasps nest make sure you use a trained professional for safety reasons.

Fed up of flies?

Flies can cause food poisoning and more serious illnesses. Windows may be fitted with fly screens. Dustbins should be sited away from doors and windows, have tight-fitting lids and be sprayed or dusted inside and beneath with a household insecticide in warm weather. Fly killer aerosols will kill flies quickly, and sticky fly papers are also available.

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